by Liz Hochman, CD(DONA), LCCE
If you would have asked me, newly pregnant with my first baby at age 27, if I would ever have my baby at home I would have thought you were crazy. I mean, homebirth just isn’t safe! There are no epidurals there! Only hippies and crazies would do that kind of thing!
During my first pregnancy I read everything I could get my hands on, and I mean EVERYTHING. My bedside table was 20 books deep at any given moment. Being the type A, analyze-everything, trust-the-data person that I was, I treated preparing for my childbirth like I was getting a degree in how to have a baby. I attended a standard childbirth education class and learned all about when I could get the epidural, how the epidural worked, and any other interventions and medications that were available to me. At no point during this learning did anyone ever mention to me, “Hey, you’re planning a natural unmedicated normal low risk birth? You might want to consider a homebirth.”
Fast forward to after that birth and into the first year of parenting my sweet new baby girl. I found myself questioning a lot about the whole experience. I began my path towards becoming a doula and found myself pregnant with my second child. It was during this process that I realized homebirth was the logical next choice for me. I wanted to KNOW who my provider was going to be at my side during this very vulnerable day. I wanted to not have to drive anywhere during the most intense parts of my labor. I didn’t want to try and negotiate and fight with the staff regarding tests, procedures, and monitoring. I respected those people a lot, as I worked with them nearly every week attending hospital births as a doula. But I knew that I didn’t want them to have to “make an exception” on my behalf as I asked for fewer and fewer items I knew they were required to implement.
So I began looking into this whole crazy homebirth thing. Me! The type A, ex-research-manager-turned-doula, suburban mom – having a homebirth. My husband had many questions about safety so we reached out to a few midwives and interviewed them. He asked all the “what if” questions he could think of. They were all so lovely and thoughtful in their answers. They had clearly done their work, studied, learned, and were qualified to be compassionate and competent medical providers. Each question we asked about safety was answered in a way that made total sense.
Q. What if our baby needs help breathing?
A. We bring the same medications they have in the hospital to help stop the bleeding.
The biggest selling point for me, came from the numbers – once again! The data and numbers person from my past just can not be ignored. So I found the research, and it was a clear choice.
The biggest selling point for my husband was that it was cheaper than the hospital birth and we could all sleep in our own beds after the birth. Originally when we called our insurance company they stated that they did not cover any out-of-hospital providers for birth. So we decided we were just going to have to take this financial hit and deal with it. Turns out they ended up covering nearly 1/3 of the expenses and it was STILL cheaper than an unmedicated normal birth at the hospital.
As I lifted my second-born from the water with the sunshine pouring in my large window in my living room I exclaimed “I DID IT!” In retrospect, I think I was talking about a lot of things when I made that exclamation. Yes, I created and birthed this beautiful child, that part is definitely part of that “I DID IT” statement. The other part was the piece where I trusted myself, my body, my instincts, and my yearning to have birth happen a different way. A way that allowed me to be WITH my family, WITH my home, WITH support, and WITH safety.
I guess that means I’m one of the hippies and crazies now?